Segment 1


[Annotators Note: Tommy Lofton is the interviewer and this interview was conducted in Sebring, FL.] Richard Ford also goes by Dick Ford. Ford was born in Erie, Pennsylvania on the Great Lakes. Ford had a mom dad and two sisters. Ford was the youngest one in the family. Ford’s two older sisters passed away the summer before this interview. One was 98 and the other was 91. His father had his own insurance agency. His mother was of German descent. She was a very good cook. Ford was a teenager during the Depression. After he got out of high school he went to Clemson College in South Carolina. Ford was talked into going into Clemson by a friend in Erie. The cost of going to Clemson was not prohibitive. Clemson was not coed by that point. There were 2,500 cadets. They had the old rat system. Ford was assigned to a couple of upperclassmen that he had to take care of. He learned how to conform to discipline. Ford knew that when he graduated he would be commissioned. During his sophomore year he got sick and they treated Ford with sulfa drugs which were just coming out on the market. As a result he had high blood pressure and could not pass the physical. Ford was frustrated with not being able to pass the physical so he enlisted in the Army. His father was very upset with the whole thing. Ford enlisted in the regular Army. He was told he could either go to Panama or Hawaii. Ford chose Panama. Since Ford was a college boy and he was taking up chemical engineering they put him in the 1st separate chemical company. It was a mortar outfit that launched gas and smoke. They had mules for transportation. The officers rode horses in that outfit. It was not too bad of an assignment. The first post Ford was at was Corozal [Annotators note: Not positive on the spelling.] Corozal was a location where the French had originally attempted to build a canal. The bed bugs were particularly bad there.


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